Mobile Apps

Can the App Economy survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Mar 24, 2020
4 min read

Covid-19 has, in 3 months, swept through the world and changed everything - including business. Many nations are now on lockdown; bustling capital cities have become ghost towns and businesses are left wondering what to do now.

It’s fairly easy to understand which businesses are directly impacted by Covid-19: high street stores, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants spring to mind. But what about digital brands - those who prop up the app economy? Many of the most successful apps have seen sharp declines in their chart ranking since the outbreak of the virus. Apps across the dating, travel and hotel verticals have taken the biggest brunt of the decline. Bumble, Tinder, Uber, Airbnb and have all suffered the impact of self-isolation and lockdowns.

You’d expect apps in the food delivery, wellness, home fitness and education to skyrocket - what else are people spending their extra free time on? However, the data suggests that apps in these areas are not experiencing the mega-growth you might expect. Uber Eats, Deliveroo, and Calm have all stayed relatively balanced, with no dramatic peaks or troughs to write home about.

When it comes to pure entertainment, people are turning to mobile devices to fill the ‘fun-void’ created by the lockdowns. Vodaphone has reported a 30% increase in internet use, with Talk Talk reporting a 20% rise. We already spend an average of 3 hours and 23 minutes per day on our phones (- equating to 50 days a year); which is bound to go up once we are confined to our homes with no opportunity to leave freely. With this in mind gaming apps should be flying right now - but they’re not. A handful of gaming apps are bucking the trend - but most have seen their installs stay at a similar level to last year.

One reason for the decline in growth in some verticals is because businesses have slowed down marketing spending - right at a time where increasing (via diverted budget - do you really need outdoor advertising right now?) or even just maintaining spend could unlock great growth opportunities. It seems a little counterproductive and ill-judged to pull your digital marketing budget at a time when mobile devices are our only links to the outside world. You have a captive audience with time (and for now, money), who are looking for entertainment.

It’s not all bad news for the App Economy. A few key areas have seen massively accelerated growth - which can only be attributed to people’s changing behaviour because of Covid-19. Non-gaming apps across finance, news, utilities, communications and business have seen fast rises in installs. Mobile apps have now shifted from time-passing activities to become much more important for working from home, staying connected to the outside world and maintaining some normal activities like managing finances. People have a need for productivity apps now more than ever. You just need to help them find yours through clever acquisition marketing.

It is still very early days in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the true economic effects won’t become apparent for some time yet. The App Economy is one area which in times of crisis or panic always seems to come through. People's reliance on their mobile devices have intertwined apps so closely into their daily lives - it's hard to see a time where people will turn away from mobile applications. Despite this positive outlook mobile app businesses shouldn't get complacent. Don't hold off on digital marketing, use the time to test and optimise to secure current customers and to reach eager-to-try new audiences. It also makes sense to plan for shaky times ahead - get your business into a strong position to survive a new recession - which most pundits agree is coming our way. Read our article about How To Use Growth Marketing To Survive A Recession to get yourself fully prepared.